COMPOSTELA, Compostela Valley (March 29) -- Evelyn, 19, rides a bus every Sunday to Tagum City where she is studying and taking a course on business management in one of the tertiary academic institutions there. She regularly goes home to Compostela, a sprawling town in Compostela Valley, every Saturday morning if her class schedule permits.
She seldom rides one of the cheaper fare buses of the Davao Integrated Bus Operators Association (Diboa) because she can not stand the unkempt and smelly condition of some of its units as well as the discourteous and at times, rude, attitude of some of its workers and non-observance of regulations on waste disposal. She usually takes a Metro Shuttle bus which operates a Tagum City-New Bataan route in traveling to and from the city, some 60 kilometres away.
Mostly, she is in a hurry and taking a Diboa bus almost always worsens her frustration of arriving in Tagum City late because some of its buses do not observe fixed schedules and stop over several times to pick up passengers overcrowded or not.
Evelyn is only one of some 200 people surveyed by a group of graduating students of the University of South Eastern Philippines (USEP) in the municipality of Compostela, province of Compostela Valley. The survey is an extension and community-linkage project of the Provincial Governor’s Office-Tourism Services Section (PGO-TSS) of Compostela Valley to study the transportation condition prevalent in the province.
Christine T. Dompor, provincial tourism officer and holder of a master’s degree in public administration, explained the study is a pioneering attempt on action research she learned during her three-month scholarship study on community-based tourism in Japan last year.
“I would have settled for the conventional system of doing research like that for thesis or dissertation. But I find the system too time-consuming, too academic and theoretical, and will take months or, in many cases, years to finish. It is very costly for struggling students in communities. In the tourism business, we need action…and fast…so we can put in reforms within a certain time frame.
“We need research results that are realistic without the usual lengthy discourses and padded feasibility studies. That’s why I find the action research study the better approach if we want research studies to be of use to real life. It is very practical, applicable, and realistic because it promises direct social change,” Ms. Dompor further explained.
And the survey by the 18 USEP graduating management students promises just that.
King of the Road
Diboa blasted into the transport scene of Compostela with a fleet of 120 buses in 1975. It was practically the acknowledged King of the Road and penetrated the inland municipalities of the swath of land of Davao province for as long as the roads were passable.
That Diboa surfaced in Compostela was unsurprising and a given. Compostela has always been the trade and commercial hub of what is now Compostela Valley. It is also where townsmen who have amassed wealth prefer to invest resources to their community to investing outside. So it was natural that five local families set up their transportation business and subsequently organized themselves into a monopoly.
For three decades Diboa dominated the transport industry of Compostela Valley province and the Compostela Valley-Tagum-Davao passenger traffic. But along the way, some of its basic services deteriorated, older buses were allowed to rot, and the serviceable ones were not upgraded. This was caused perhaps by the indifference of its operators lulled by the easy confidence that it was the only mass means of travel to and from the interior of the province. Gradually, from a fleet of 120 and five operators, the once mammoth Diboa reduced to only 20 buses and two operators with another operator servicing only the Compostela-Cateel, Davao Oriental route.
The last of the several remaining nails to the coffin of the former mighty transport monopoly came in 2006 when Davao Metro Shuttle opened a Davao-Tagum-Monkayo-New Bataan route. It was the end of the once-proud King of the Road. Nevertheless, with its remaining buses, it refused to give up the ghost. (By Jimmy P. Abayon - PGO-Tourism Services Section)